Reel To Real Khilji: The Padmavthi Villain’s 5 Boons To The Economy

The nephew and son-in-law of Jalaluddin Khilji, Alauddin Khilji (1296-1316) have been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Ranveer Singh stars as Khilji in Bhansali’s Padmavati. Unsurprisingly, conjecture surrounds the movie. Fringe groups like Karni Sena have alleged that the film distorts Rajput history.


Ranveer Singh as Khilji in Padmavathi movie
Ranveer Singh in Padmavathi (Source: Google)

The reel Khilji cannot be judged before the movie’s release. However, according to Satish Chandra’s book, Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals-Delhi Sultanat (1206-1526),  the real Khilji was the first ruler to address the problem of price control in a systematic manner to maintain stable prices for a decade. Additionally, he is credited with bringing several reforms and regulating markets to control the prices of the essential food item. Here are a few of his other reforms:

1. Food price control:

Today, the Food Corporation of India with provides farmers a minimum support price for their food grains. However, Khilji set up a mechanism to control the supply of food grains from villages. He hired grain merchants, known as karwanis.  Correspondingly, they transported food grains from villages to Delhi for further distribution among citizens.

2. Reformations in the cloth market:

He convinced the Multani merchants to sell their cloth only at the Sarai-adl. The Delhi Sultanate regulated prices at this designated cloth market. Specifically, he granted the rich merchants a royal patronage of two million tankas. Consequently, they bought cloth from far-off lands but did not sell them to any intermediaries. This was very similar to what is now the Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI). The CMAI has over 20,000 base members.

3. Prevention of hoarding:

Grains were first kept in Delhi, then distributed all of the countries to royal shops. Consequently, local sellers could not fake a shortage. This prevented them from overcharging for their product. Correspondingly, the FCI watches over the food security of the nation, today.

4. Regulation of the agricultural market:

He regulated the agricultural market from Dipalpur and Lahore to Kara near modern-day Allahabad. Supposedly, these reforms brought the people closer to their government. The land revenue was fixed at half the production value and measurement of the land. Additionally, no other taxes were collected.

5. Khilji’s multiple market structure:

He decentralized the market system in Delhi, and  set up three markets:

  • The first, for essentials (like food grains.)
  • The second, for luxury items (cloth, ghee, etc.)
  • The third for slaves and animals (ho.rses, cattle, etc)

However, this distinction of goods is more profound today. Similarly, many famous fairs are excellent destinations for particular goods, cattle, or cloth.

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